By RENEE FITE
A traditional artist by desire and training, Buffalo Gauge turned an eye toward the electronic future and graphic design.
With everything going digital, Gauge wanted to see how his love of painting would translate onto the screen. He was skeptical at first of the medium many people relate to as computer drawing, but soon realized his talent translated well into the digital language.
“The creative process is the same as traditional; you have to think it out or it won’t work,” Gouge said. “You have layers you have to keep in order for the image to come together.”
A project he’s tinkered with while enrolled in the Graphics Communications program at Indian Capitol Technology Center has the potential of gaining popularity and commercial success. The geometric shape of the letters on many University of Oklahoma logo designs seemed ideal for native designs.
“I started with about 25 different motifs, then the artist in me kicked in,” he said.
Now he has a design licensed by OU that he can sell. He shares the copyright design with the university.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I submitted the design to OU for licensing,” Gouge said. “But they didn’t tell me no. They told me it’s really unique, and everyone in the office liked it and said it was balanced.”
As a young artist, Gouge used moved from earth tones to pop art or Southwest genre colors artists used in the ‘70s. Acrylic paint is his first love. He doesn’t have the patience for oil, but even though acrylic dries rapidly, he can work and blend the colors. Native portraits are a favorite subject.
He credits Mary Adair Horsechief, his art teacher at Sequoyah High School, for teaching him how to market himself. Janice Hickey at Catoosa High School helped him build his first portfolio. She introduced him to Southwest Art Magazine and told him about the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, which he attended a year.
Art allows Gouge to express himself.
“It’s a way to share who I am, where I’ve been, and all the emotions tied into it,” he said.
He likes working on films in front and behind the camera, has been a story board artist for films, and enjoys promoting films.
“When composing music, I discovered it to be just like painting. Everything has to work together – synthesizer, drums, piano – just like colors for painting,” he said. “ The style of music has to flow with your choice of notes and rhythm, like the subject of my paintings and choice of colors, composition.”
Art is everything to Gouge.
“Art is my life, in my blood, my heart, my soul, in my dreams. I understand how art is used as therapy for people having trouble verbally expressing what they need to say and they are not even artists,” he said.
For now, he is selling the OU logo items from his car, while negotiations with other outlets are in progress.
“I really couldn’t believe it, but it’s actually happening,” he said.
His digital program instructor, Cheryl Miller of Graphic Communication at ICTC, also gets kudos.
“If it wasn’t for her and ICTC, these native OU tees would not be here this soon. In the three months I’ve been in school, I redesigned the master font for Native Oklahoma Magazine, created logos for businesses, and designed T-shirts,” he said.
Gouge feels people take art for granted and says it’s often underappreciated. And he likes knowing that after he has left this world, his work will still be here and his name will reverberate.
“I may not leave a ton of money for my grandkids’ grandkids, but at least I can leave a kid or grandkid who is into music, my tracks that I created to encourage them to pursue their passion for music. Same with my paintings and digital graphics,” he said.
“A little bit of me will still be here on earth long after I have left, just like Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci. I’m no way saying I’m those guys, but their work has inspired millions and millions of little artists. I’m thankful God gave me this life. So when I leave this world, I hope I’ve made an impact on the art community and world.”